2015 TOP STORIES: Carmel, Westfield mayors get pat on back from voters

Despite complaints about steep debt and government spending, incumbent Hamilton County mayors easily won May primaries.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard defeated Republican challenger Rick Sharp with 62 percent of the vote, even though the race had been expected to be much closer. 

Brainard and Sharp sparred over the state of the city’s finances—with Sharp warning the budget was unstable and Brainard reassuring residents of its strong credit rating. The two strongly disagreed over the way to calculate Carmel’s debt. Brainard counted only the principal owed, $550 million, while Sharp included the interest, which pegged debt near $1 billion.

Brainard will enter his sixth term in 2016 with a similar vision for growing the upscale suburb.

Also in the primary, Westfield Mayor Andy Cook held off GOP challenger Jeff Harpe with 61 percent of the vote, despite fielding criticism for the city’s spending on the Grand Park Sports Campus.

Harpe unsuccessfully sued the city in late 2014, accusing local officials of violating Indiana’s Open Door Law during the process of approving plans for the $25 million indoor soccer arena on the campus.

Financing for the facility has also been in question. Private developer Holladay Properties is building the arena using a $25 million loan the city will pay back over 25 years. With interest added, the total cost could be near $53 million.

Now, Cook’s vision for the city is extending beyond Grand Park. The $25 million Grand Junction Plaza is still in the design phase, but is expected to progress next year.

Both Republicans were unopposed in the general election.

—Lindsey Erdody

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